Human Development and Family Studies Undergraduate Program

Are you interested in understanding human behavior, in learning how people relate to one another and about how to make a difference in their lives? Then consider pursuing studies in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS). In HDFS, you will:

  • Understand how individuals develop and change from birth to old age
  • Understand how families and communities influence individual development
  • Learn how to apply this knowledge to develop, implement and evaluate interventions designed to improve the lives of individuals and families

Use the menu options on the right side of the page to learn more about the HDFS Undergraduate program. For additional information on topics not addressed on this site, please contact our team in Advising and Career Planning.

Program Overview

HDFS is a program in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development. In the HDFS program, you learn about how people and families develop biologically, psychologically, and socially. It also provides you the opportunity to learn the foundations of working in a wide range of human services with many different groups of people. We will support you as you learn about promoting normal development, identifying and managing real-life problems, and intervening when appropriate.

The program helps you to prepare for a career where you will work with people in a supportive role, including developing new models to prevent and treat social and mental health problem and becoming an advocate for new social policies and programs. You will study moral, ethical, and legal issues that you will face as professionals and learn to evaluate alternative approaches to promoting optimal development. Also, you are encouraged to develop the leadership and managerial skills necessary for success in administration and evaluation of human service programs.

Through HDFS’s interdisciplinary approach, you will learn about the intricacies of the human lifespan from birth to old age. You will explore the biological, psychological, and the sociological facets of life in order to help others live healthy successful lives. With a focus on child and adolescent development, adult development and aging, biological aspects of human development, family studies, or prevention and developmental research students learn about how individuals progress and change from birth to old age; how families and communities influence these processes; and how to apply this knowledge in order to develop, implement, and evaluate interventions designed to improve people’s lives.